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Setup.msi & setup.exe -- what is the difference?

Posted on 2007-11-27
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Last Modified: 2013-12-16
Hi,

I'm creating a setup project for my application. Two files were created when I compiled the project:

Setup.msi & setup.exe

What is the difference and which one I should distribute?

Thanks.
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Question by:EEssam
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by:digital_thoughts
digital_thoughts earned 150 total points
ID: 20360441
An MSI is a database file that is used by the Windows Installer to install your application, whereas an exe includes an installer. Microsoft recommends using MSI to distribute applications.
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by:digital_thoughts
ID: 20360458
Also, an MSI can be deployed to an active directory environment using group policy.
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by:EEssam
ID: 20360523
Can I just distribute the MSI, without the exe?
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by:Maverick_Cool
Maverick_Cool earned 50 total points
ID: 20360637
I believe one of them is a "bootstrapper" type app which executes any presetup commands that you supply it. Bottom line is you need both of them, just in case. One executes the other. Just like Office setup for example, you can't run the office setup file (named to something obvious) but you must run the setup.msi file.
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by:digital_thoughts
ID: 20360667
Yes you can distribute just the MSI as long as you will be distributing to environments with Microsoft Windows.
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Roopesh_7 earned 300 total points
ID: 20360875
Hi friend,
The Setup.exe file is the bootstrapper. It does all the checking and validation to make sure it is OK to run the MSI. If you include the Framework with your installer it is Setup.exe that checks for the Framework already installed and then installs it if required. It also does the same for any other prerequisites. If you run the MSI directly then you'll install your app but you'll have no guarantee that it will work. If you know for a fact that all the prerequisites are in place then you can run the MSI directly, otherwise you should run Setup.exe and let it invoke the MSI if appropriate.
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